DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It is in the back of every Bethune-Cookman baseball player’s mind. They play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Their home field is historic ground.
Watching “42” – the Warner Brothers movie depicting Robinson’s epic accomplishments, reaffirmed that.
“Seeing Jackie Robinson playing on the same field we play on is pretty cool,” said B-CU pitcher Scott Garner. “It changes your perspective.”
The B-CU athletic department hosted a special screening for its athletes last Thursday evening at Ormond Beach’s Regal Cinema. Robinson’s first spring training game took place in Daytona Beach in 1946, with Bethune-Cookman and its founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, having a role in paving the way for Robinson breaking baseball’s modern color barrier.
The different generations in the theater appreciated different aspects of the movie. Director of Athletics Lynn W. Thompson’s father was in the stands for Robinson’s first exhibition game. The B-CU CatEye Network commentator Larry Wesley smiled when his friend Ed Charles, who grew up in Daytona Beach and would go on to win a World Series with the “Miracle Mets” (1969 New York Mets), got screen time as a young boy.
“It was accurate and represented Bethune-Cookman, Daytona Beach and the state of Florida very well,” Wesley said. “Though Dr. Bethune and Bethune-Cookman weren’t featured, the audience collectively cheered for the scenes in which Robinson got off the bus in Daytona Beach and played at “City Island Park” – even though those scenes were filmed in Macon, Georgia.”
And while the older members in the audience were pleased with historical accuracy, the younger fans found other aspects to cheer, notably many of the comments of Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford) and the baseball game scenes spotlighting Robinson’s base running skills.
“Jackie is in that pitcher’s head!” one patron noted as Robinson (portrayed by Chadwick Boseman) stole second base.
“I thought it was an excellent movie,” said B-CU baseball head coach Jason Beverlin. “Jackie’s more than a baseball player. He changed the hearts of a nation.”
B-CU’s celebration of Robinson continued through the weekend, with those bringing in tickets stubs from the movie getting in free to the baseball team’s series with North Carolina Central.For all the latest information on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, follow the official Twitter feed, @BCUathletics, or “Like Us” on Facebook at Bethune-Cookman Athletics.